In 2006, writer Mark Millar unveiled Civil War, a seven-issue comic book miniseries that pitted many of Marvel’s stable of superheroes against each other. In the comic, old allies find themselves butting heads after the US government passes a Superhero Registration Act ostensibly designed to have superpowered individuals act under official regulation.
That comic has now been adapted as the third Captain America film, one that finds the Avengers splitting into two opposing factions. We talked to the influential writer about the original comic book and the plans for the sequel to last year’s mega successful movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service...
What was the inspiration for the comic?
Civil War started life as a big X-Men project I was going to do. The idea of an ideological split between two best friends and everybody picking sides. Marvel needed a massive summer event and suggested I make it wider, using ALL their characters. It was actually really hard to write as I had to do a ridiculous amount of research, but it worked out well and is still their biggest selling graphic novel in the company’s history.
Did you have sympathy with both points of view in the comic, and was it easy picking the characters who would be on a particular side?
The split was about superheroes being co-opted by the government and working for them, like cops. The more pragmatic guys like Iron Man saw this as sensible as it’s essentially like gun-control. You can’t have unlicensed teenagers running around with the power to push over buildings. But at the same time Captain America makes the point that they shouldn’t be affiliated to a political body and possibly even used unethically. I wrote this as America was changing a lot under George W. Bush and new freedoms were being curtailed every day so it was quite timely.
What kind of impact did the events of Civil War have on the Marvel continuity around it? Did you have to have regular conversations with the writers of the other titles?
I just wrote my book and then we invited other writers to attach their books to it if they liked. Pretty much everyone did and since Marvel produce around 100 books a month that was a lot of titles tying in over a seven issue storyline. The books that tied in generally doubled or tripled in sales so the company was really happy.
Are you looking forward to the movie version? Have they changed much from your original comic book?
No, it’s much the same. They’ve added characters they have the rights to as some of their characters are scattered around different studios, but the main players and their chief lieutenants in this thing are all the same.
What’s the situation with Kingsman 2?
Matthew [Vaughn] and Jane [Goldman] finished the screenplay before Christmas and the plan is for the movie to be shooting in the Spring. I only wrote one book so this is a new, original stories, but the nice thing is Dave Gibbons [artist on the original comic book] and I still co-own the rights so we both get paid the same money regardless. It’s beautiful. The capitalist dream!
Any other movies in the pipeline?
We’ve got nine movies in various stages at the moment, three shooting this year all going well. Starlight I think will probably be the first and the idea for this is kind of Buck Rogers meets Unforgiven, the idea of an old, retired space hero in his sixties and living in the mid-west getting one last call back into space to save an alien world. It’s a big action story, but also really moving. We’re also hoping to make Superior, which is essentially Big meets Superman, a little kid with multiple sclerosis getting a magic wish and his wish to be his favourite on-screen superhero in real life. It’s a nice kids’ film in the Amblin mode. Just a big fun family picture. At the end of the year, we want to get going on Huck, Empress and Chrononauts too. We’re keeping busy. The plan is to make Millarworld into Marvel between now and the end of the decade.
Captain America: Civil War opens at Cineworld on 29th April.